Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Financial Aid

Federal Direct Loan Program

​Military Students

In acknowledgement of your service to our country, there are special benefits and repayment options for your student loans available from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Defense. For more information about Federal Student Aid for military students Click Here.

Direct Loans

I. Required Counseling Sessions:
Students who are requesting loans must complete the counseling sessions. Your financial aid office will send the requirements to your student email address.

II. Once you have completed the Direct Loan Counseling Sessions above, you will need to complete the following:

Department of Education Direct Stafford Loan Entrance and Exit sessions.

III. Direct Loan Program Information

Applying

As with all federal student aid, you apply for Direct Loans by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Most students use FAFSA on the Web to complete their applications. The information on your FAFSA is transmitted to the schools that you list on the application, and those schools use the information to assess your financial need for student aid. You must be enrolled in 6 or more units. 

Steps to apply for a loan after the FAFSA has been completed.
Contact your financial aid office; they will guide you in the completion of the required documents.

Prior to distribution of the second disbursement, you will be required to complete exit counseling.

Repayment begins six months after you graduate or cease to be at least a halftime student. You will generally have 10 years to pay back your loan. Your monthly payment will usually be more than $200, but never less than $50. It is the borrower's responsibility to maintain contact with the United States Department of Education and to establish a repayment schedule. The borrower's failure to inform the United States Department of Education of changes in enrollment status, anticipated graduation dates, current address, name, deferment eligibility, or college of attendance may result in default on the student loan.

The Award Package

Direct Loans are generally awarded as part of a larger "award package," which may contain other types of aid as well, to help you meet the costs of going to college or career school.

The Direct Loan Program offers the following types of loans:

  • Interest subsidy during the six-moth grace period is eliminated for new Stafford Loans made on or after July 1, 2012, and before July 1, 2014. The repayment period still begin 6 months after the student is no longer enrolled at least half-time, but interest that accrues during those six months will be payable by the student rather than be subsidized by the federal government.
  • Unsubsidized: not based on financial need; interest is charged during all periods, even during the time a student is in school and during grace and deferment periods.
  • PLUS: unsubsidized loans for the parents of dependent students and for graduate/professional students. PLUS loans help pay for education expenses up to the cost of attendance minus all other financial assistance. Interest is charged during all periods.
  • Consolidation: Eligible federal student loans can be combined into one Direct Consolidation Loan.

 

Student borrowers are not required to begin making payments until after they drop below halftime attendance. See When you graduate or leave school for more information.

The Financial Aid Office will tell you how much you may borrow and the types of loans your are eligible to receive. The information below will give you an idea of how much you may be eligible to receive.

Note: PLUS loan borrowers cannot have an adverse credit history (a credit check will be done).

Accepting a Loan

The Financial Aid Office will tell you the loan amounts that it is offering, usually in an "award letter" that lists all of your proposed financial aid awards (your award package).

You should evaluate the aid offer carefully. In the case of loans, keep in mind that whatever amount you borrow must be paid back with interest. If your living expenses are not as high as the standard allowance projected by your school, you may not have to borrow as much as the amount in the award letter.

To get an idea of your monthly loan payments after you graduate, take a look at our repayment calculator.

To get an idea of your college expenses, use our budget calculator.

You have the right to decline the loan or to request a lower loan amount. In the award letter your school will tell you how to do this.

Credit check & endorser alternative

When you apply for a Direct PLUS Loan, the Department will check your credit history. To be eligible to receive a PLUS loan, you must not have an adverse credit history. If you are determined to have an adverse credit history, you may still receive a Direct PLUS Loan if you obtain an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history. An endorser is someone who agrees to repay the Direct PLUS Loan if you do not repay the loan. If you are a parent borrowing on behalf of your dependent student, the endorser may not be the student on whose behalf a parent obtains a Direct PLUS Loan. In some cases, you may also be able to obtain a Direct PLUS Loan if you document to our satisfaction that there are extenuating circumstances related to your adverse credit history.

Loan limits

The maximum amount you can borrow each year in Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans depends on your grade level and on whether you are a dependent student or an independent student. The following table shows the maximum amount of money you may borrow each academic year in Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans:

 

Dependent student1

Independent student2

1st-year undergraduate

$5,500 (maximum $3,500 subsidized)

$9,500 ($3,500)3

2nd-year undergraduate

$6,500 ($4,500)

$10,500 ($4,500)

3rd- and 4th-year undergraduate

$7,500 ($5,500)

$12,500 ($5,500)

Graduate/professional

NA (All graduate and professional students are considered independent.)

$20,500 ($8,500)

 

1. Except those whose parents are unable to borrow a PLUS loan.
2. These limits also apply to dependent students whose parents are unable to borrow a PLUS loan.
3. The numbers in parentheses represent the maximum amount that may be subsidized.

The actual loan amount you are eligible to receive for an academic year is determined by your school and may be less than the maximum annual amounts shown in the chart above.

Below are the aggregate (total) limits for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans:

  • $31,000 for dependent undergraduate students excluding those whose parents are unable to borrow a PLUS Loan (no more than $23,000 may be subsidized)
  • $57,500 for independent undergraduate students and dependent undergraduates whose parents are unable to borrow a PLUS loan (no more than $23,000 may be subsidized)
  • $138,500 for graduate or professional students (no more than $65,500 may be subsidized; includes loans for undergraduate study)

 

These aggregate limits include both Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and any subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans received through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program.

With a Direct PLUS Loan, a graduate/professional student or the parent of a dependent student can borrow up to the cost of the student's attendance minus other financial aid the student receives.

The aggregate suggested loan limit for students is $15,000​.

While you're in repayment

Generally, you'll have from 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on which repayment plan (there are several) you choose.

The Direct Loan Servicing Center will notify you of the date your first payment is due. If you do not choose a repayment plan, we will place you on the Standard Repayment Plan, with fixed monthly payments for up to 10 years. Most Direct Loan borrowers choose to stay with the Standard Repayment Plan, but there are other options for borrowers who may need more time to repay or who need to make lower payments at the beginning of the repayment period.

You can change repayment plans at any time by going to the Direct Loan Servicing Center's website and logging in to your account.